Epistolary or Diary Novels

These novels tell their stories thru letters or diary entries.

Novels of Letters or Diaries

Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel | Avi

Philip Malloy is a ninth grade student interested in running track but not particularly attentive in class. He has a difficult relationship with his English teacher, Miss Narwin. His low English grade prevents him from trying out for the team. Philip hums the national anthem as it plays over the PA. The official school policy is for students to be silent during the anthem. The issue leads to a standoff between the two. The story is told thru school memos, letters, telegrams, diary entries, and a newspaper article.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall | Anne Bronte

A young widow, Mrs. Graham, moves into Wildfell Hall. The Markham’s visit, but they don’t find out much about her. She develops a social relationship with Gilbert Markham. When gossip circulates about Mrs. Graham, Gilbert confronts her about it. She says she will explain things to him, but a complication arises, preventing this.

Read “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”

Tangerine | Edward Bloor

Paul Fisher is a middle school student with poor vision who only cares about playing on the school’s soccer team. His older brother Eric is a placekicker on his high school football team. Paul has been told that he lost his vision by looking at an eclipse, but he has memory fragments that cause him to doubt this story. Paul makes the soccer team, but is removed because his mother indicated he was disabled on a school form. He records his experiences at his new school in his diary during a three month span.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey | Thorton Wilder

In Lima, Peru, in June of 1714, a century old rope bridge collapses resulting in the death of the five people on it. A monk, Brother Juniper, witnesses the tragedy, and wonders why God would allow it. He decides to find out by researching the five victims to determine what traits they had. The narrative gives us the results of his research, the life histories of the victims.

A portion of the story is told thru the letters of one of the victims, the Marquesa de Montemayor.

Gilead | Marilynne Robinson

Reverend John Ames, an elderly man dying of heart disease, writes a series of letters in his journal for his young son to read when he grows up. He tells the stories of his father, grandfather, and best friend, Robert.

The Color Purple | Alice Walker

Fourteen year old Celie writes letters to God about her life. She was raped by her stepfather and he threatened her not to tell anyone but God. She is essentially sold to a man who beats her often. Celie is a hard worker and struggles thru her oppression.

Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World | Fanny Burney

Reverend Arthur Villars, Evelina’s guardian, agrees to let her stay with Lady Howard for a while. They attend a ball in London, where Evelina meets Lord Orville, a distinguished, exceptional man. She makes social errors and learns how to behave.

Read “Evelina”

Pamela | Samuel Richarson

Pamela is a virtuous fifteen-year-old maidservant to Lady B. When Lady B dies, her son, Mr. B, tries to seduce her. She refuses. She tries to return home, but Mr. B intercepts her letters. She gets sent to Lincolnshire Estate where she meets Mr. Williams, a chaplain.

Read “Pamela”